Understanding Our Veteran and Retired Defence Forces: Relationship Abundance Guide

Our defence force is more than just an organisation. It is a bond of brotherhood. Everyone in the service considers each other as family.

Our defence force is more than just an organisation. It is a bond of brotherhood. Everyone in the service considers each other as family. Different levels of experience and situations while in service develop deeper trust among our defence forces. So, while in service, our members of the defence force can feel relationship abundance.

Entering the military can affect various aspects in one’s life, especially towards their family relationship. Some may not have any issues returning to civilian life. But for some veteran and retired members of our defence force, transitioning back to the civilian life can be double the hardship. 

Aside from getting used to what we know as a “normal” routine, they must also work on their relationship with people back home.

Unstable Relationship after Service

Even if you came from a family with close family ties, the relationship formed in service is unique and strong. Your survival may depend on it. The brotherhood and camaraderie can protect you in difficult situations. Members of defence forces get to celebrate wins and cope with losses with each other. After all, you shared a strong relationship mindset with each other.

This is why for some of our veteran and retired members of defence forces, leaving the service can be equal to the grief of separation. 

They can feel the loss of important relationships and connections. Daily communication with their defence force family will lessen and can even be lost. This can be a heavy blow for them. Every part of their lives will change. The feeling of relationship abundance is gone.

When it is time for them to retire and leave the service, they can experience the feeling of loss of purpose and loss of sense of identity. They can also feel isolated in the community that doesn’t understand their experiences and core beliefs that they value. They can even feel detached towards their own family.

Returning to civilian life after service can be a critical time for our veteran and retired defence forces. It can affect even the most solid relationships. After retiring from service, a lot of changes affect the behaviour of our veterans towards their family and other people. These behaviours can affect their relationships with others and can even destroy the foundation of the family.

At DDDC, we can help you adjust and understand changes in the behaviour of your loved ones. We value everyone’s relationship and focus on improving them.

Behavioural Changes of Veteran and Retired Defence Forces

Understanding our veteran and retired loved one after they have returned home is not an easy task. There are positive emotions to deal with like happiness, relief and hope that everything will be normal. But then there are behaviours of our veterans who have experienced extreme conditions that are not easy to see as normal and affect their relationship management.

  1. Closeness – Pushing away loved ones

This can be caused by some experience during their service in the defence force. For our veterans and retired members, this could mean being vigilant and practising survival skills. But in the civilian world, this could be translated as avoiding loved ones and pushing them away. They could be unwilling to let their guard down and build barriers to their family’s affection. This affects their family members as they may see this as being unloved and unvalued.

  1. Emotionless – Coldness towards others

Most of the time, in order to survive while in service, our veterans had been used to the feeling of numbness. This lets them think clearly and act immediately when actions are needed. Sometimes they don’t even have the time to process everything, they are just told to learn to survive. In returning to their family, our veterans also don’t have the process of “unlearning”. Their family members tend to notice lack of emotions like sadness, compassion and happiness.

  1. Isolation – Secrecy and Unsocial to people

Our veterans and retired members of the defence force may show behaviour that they do not want to connect to people. They can even be suspicious and sometimes even paranoid about daily events in the community. And because of this, their family members can also grow suspicious of the veterans and can think that they are lying to them or hiding something.

  1. Anger – Oversensitivity and Quick-tempered

Family members may notice that the only emotion that our veterans can express is anger. Having the feeling of loss of purpose or identity, our veterans can begin being overly sensitive about anything. Their family then begins acting differently towards them. They may keep things that can anger the veterans. They may also start being scared of them or may even start avoiding them.

  1. Authoritative – Give orders to others

Discipline, respect and loyalty are some of the values that are learned while in service. And during retirement, our veterans cannot help but apply these to their family members. They may give orders and expect not to be questioned. They may not be open to discuss family matters and just expect everyone to obey his/her orders. They may try to control everyone and give punishments for those who disobey. With this behaviour, family members may tend to close their communication towards the veteran and thus, losing the family system.

Relationship Abundance for our Veteran and Retired Defence Forces

Supporting our veterans when they are transitioning to civilian life is not an easy task but believe me when I say ‘it can be done’. It really is possible. 

After all, they are still normal people just trying to live a normal life. Whether your relationship is strong, rocky or somewhere in between, it is still a fact that there are many ways to strengthen and maintain strong relationship bonds.

What can you do? Here are some tips to have healthy relationships towards our veteran and retired members of the defence force.

  1. Communicate effectively

This could be a bit of cliché advice but it is still the best. Relationship abundance does not happen miraculously. It is when people involved are willing to plan on how to build their relationship in open and honest communication. Effective communication is the foundation of all strong relationships. So, make an effort to communicate and listen to your veteran loved ones.

  1. Adjust your expectations

Accept your veteran loved ones as they are. Accept yourself and your family relationship as they are now. People change in time and more often than not, time is just what our veterans need to be able to adjust again to their new life.

  1. Create routines together

New routines can help our veterans adjust and transition well to civilian life. It can help them create new relationships with people in the community. Activities spent together can also strengthen your relationship with them. You can exercise together, play board games or go on picnics every weekend. Every small thing done together can be a foundation of your healthy relationship.

  1. Live one day at a time

For our veterans and retired defence forces members, the past can be depressing and the future is unsettling. It is still best to live at the present. Encourage our veterans to meditate and think of things they are grateful for every day. Learn to enjoy and live your everyday life to the fullest.

Relationships are an important aspect of our life. Struggles and conflict can threaten its core but there are ways to keep its bond. Getting the help of people who know better about relationship management, keeping a healthy relationship, and having the right relationship mindset can make it easier for you to welcome them back into civilian life.

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